Mark W. Hendrickson

Many Christians over many years have been beguiled by the Religious Left’s use of the term “social justice.” This is because Christians rightly love justice and hate injustice. But “social justice”—or, at least, how it’s often used by liberal Christians—isn’t necessarily biblical justice.

The standard of biblical justice is equal treatment by law: “Thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty” (Leviticus 19:15). Justice not only means that nobody is to be picked on because he is poor or favored because he is rich, but that (contrary to the doctrine of “social justice”) nobody is to be picked on because he is rich or favored because he is poor. Everyone’s rights deserve the same protection. Thus, nobody should be taxed at a higher rate than his neighbors, nor should anyone receive special government handouts.

The modern left’s “social justice” strives for economic equality. It endeavors to reduce, if not erase, the gap between rich and poor by redistributing wealth. This is “justice” more akin to Marx and Lenin, not according to Moses and Jesus. It is a counterfeit of real justice, biblical justice. Modern notions of “social justice” are often wolves in sheep’s clothing.

The fundamental error of today’s “social justice” practitioners is their hostility to economic inequality, per se. “Social justice” theory fails to distinguish between economic disparities that result from unjust deeds and those that are part of the natural order of things. All Christians oppose unjust deeds, and I’ll list some economic injustices momentarily. First, though, let us understand why it isn’t necessarily unjust for some people to be richer than others:

God made us different from each other. We are unequal in aptitude, talent, skill, work ethic, priorities, etc. Inevitably, these differences result in some individuals producing and earning far more wealth than others. To the extent that those in the “social justice” crowd obsess about eliminating economic inequality, they are at war with the nature of the Creator’s creation.

The Bible doesn’t condemn economic inequality. You can’t read Proverbs without seeing that some people are poor due to their own vices. There is nothing unjust about people reaping what they sow, whether wealth or poverty.


Mark W. Hendrickson

Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson is an adjunct faculty member, economist, and fellow for economic and social policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.